Viewing by month: October 2009

Secrets of happy people

I thought today I would blog about something other than a topic directly related to real estate. It relates a little bit to working in real estate, but it also relates to other aspects of life – basically, what does it take to be truly happy? I’ve posted before about how important it is to be happy in your job, and happy in your workplace, because ultimately happy employees are often the best employees.


I think it’s fairly safe to say It’s pretty safe to say that if you took a quick survey and asked people what would make them happy, you’d probably get a lot of responses along the lines of being wealty, being famous, owning prestigious toys etc. And whilst there’s no denying I’d be incredibly happy if I suddenly found myself the owner of a new Bentley and a mansion in the South of France, these types of things aren’t really what happiness is about, are they? If we’re truly honest with ourselves, often the answer is no.


It’s important to put steps into place to achieve what you know will ultimately make you happy, and if that is the money and the big house then by all means start working towards that, but sometimes it’s a simpler process.


Happy people tend to know what really matters. When I was deliberating about a home purchase or travel in my younger years, I once had a friend ask me “if you found out you were going to die tomorrow would think glad I bought that house, or glad I saw Europe?” and such a simple way to examine my quandary made began to make me realize what makes me happy. Similarly even if it is a bit macabre, it’s a good way to assess what makes you happy when it comes to relationships, your work etc.


Be clear about your goals. It can be overwhelming when you start considering what you want to achieve in your lifetime. Limit the number of big projects you take on every year which will make them more achievable – a goal like getting into shape for example – and then make time to ensure you are actively working towards what you know will make you proud of yourself, or happier.

Steer clear of negative people and negative energy. Happy people tend to attract happy people, and some of that is through effort. Surrounding yourself with inspiring and motivating people is likely to rub off, make you less likely to be negative about yourself or others and less likely to make excuses for not achieving what you intended to. Make time to do the things that make you happy and they will soon become a regular part of your life. On that note, I might get myself a wine…


1 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 14/10/2009 at 9:43 AM | Categories:

The drama of selling a famous home

When it comes to real estate, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it would a cinch to sell a famous home. Generally speaking, the rich and famous of the world tend to have pretty nice abodes and the property owned by many of these people are the types of homes we aspire to.


Take for example an international property for sale that I came across recently. I’ve mentioned before that I like to peruse the international property market, even if it is just wishful thinking. This place was a Caribbean-style home, light-filled, and in a lovely place, namely Palm Beach in Florida. At first glance, this home looked like it has everything that wealthy buyers covet. It has waterfront, it’s a 10-room estate that boasts 22-foot-high beamed ceilings, terracotta tile floors and a ground floor surrounded by lushly landscaped atriums. Apparently even the price tag, which sits at a cool $8.5 million price tag is reasonable by Palm Beach standards. And then there’s the catch.


The home was owned by notorious Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff. This property was turned over for sale to federal marshals along with two other properties in order to help compensate victims of his $65 billion Ponzi scheme. It seems that as fabulous as a property may be, if there’s scandal attached to it, whether a gruesome murder, high-profile sex scandal or messy tabloid divorces, suddenly it’s not quite so appealing and the real estate agents charged with selling the home say it’s a tough gig.

Real estate professionals will sometimes term this type of home for sale a stigmatised property, and even in the best of market conditions, trying to find a buyer can prove challenging.  In the current climate in the USA in particular the abundance of homes on the market means that these properties can prove even more difficult for realtors. One story in particular made headlines when in a town called Greenwich in Connecticut, a real estate mogul by the name of Andrew Kissel was renting a red brick mansion at the hefty sum of $15,000 per month. Tragically, Andrew was found bound, gagged and stabbed to death inside it in 2006, and its almost needless to say that when the owner tried to sell it post that event, buyers weren’t exactly beating the door down to inspect the home. Again, the property was one that many who could afford it should have liked – the four bedroom home sat on 2.1 acres of lush land on a quiet, tree-lined road, but it hung around on the market for more than a year at a price of $5.2 million. Eventually the owner knocked the whole thing down and replaced the property with a new mansion, but it still failed to sell, even after a $2.3 million price cut. It seems celebrity property may not be that wonderful a game after all!  

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 13/10/2009 at 1:07 PM | Categories:

The good and the bad of renovating to sell

I find renovations fascinating. Seeing how people’s tastes transfer to their surrounds is something I never tire of. Whilst many investors in real estate make changes to a property to reflect market demand, home owners often have no intention of leaving a property and so make changes to reflect their own personal tastes and style of living. These changes can have a substantial impact on the value of that property, and it’s not always positive. Although these homeowners think what they do to a house doesn't matter because they have no intention of ever selling, our recent economic turmoil has demonstrated that the things you never thought would happen actually can.


Although in Australia we have been relatively sheltered from the economic fallout, there are still those homeowners who had to sell the home they thought they’d always live in, and what they done to “improve” their property ultimately affects the resale value. As a real estate agent, we see the whole gamut of renovations, home improvements and decorating styles. Some are these are great, some are pretty awful, and all can have an impact on resale value.


The best improvements that a homeowner can make to their property are often the ones that don’t cost a fortune, and also don’t require extensive work or expertise. Things like new carpet and fresh paint can change the entire look and feel of a room. Be mindful that you don’t turn these choices into your own personal fashion statement however. You may have always hankered for black walls and white furniture, but more neutral tones are likely to appeal to a broader segment of the population if you want to sell your house quickly.


If walking into your home is a bit of a throwback to the 50s, you may also need to consider a few larger scale projects such as updating the bathroom and kitchen. These are key rooms that, if not really up to modern day demands, may prove obstacles to a sale for many. When it comes to the bathroom, many people these days want a multiple – two bathrooms is generally what many buyers are looking for.

If you are able to make significant modifications to your home – such as the addition of a bathroom if needed, try to avoid trendy renovations and steer clear of what are short term fads. It pays to check with a local real estate agent to get their opinion on what you’re planning to do to your home, and how that sits with the buying habits of the area. If you speak to a local expert, someone who has good experience in the area, they should be able to give you solid advice on what will and wont work when the time comes for you to sell. I suggest you start with your local Century 21 office! 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 07/10/2009 at 10:53 AM | Categories:

Social media and real estate

The social media phenomenon doesn’t appear to be diminishing. In fact, everywhere I look or listen, people are talking about it, writing about it, or actively getting involved in it. For this reason, and because now I am such a super-blogger, I thought I’d write about using social media to help your blogging in particular and why I find it very helpful. 


As soon as you start blogging, you can attract a crowd from search engines. This is probably happening completely unbeknown to you, especially if you’re like many bloggers and you are posting for fun. My shrewd business mind however realizes that the more people find me through search engines, the more likely they are to end up at Century 21, and hopefully that means our business will continue to grow.

Another way to get people to your blog, and in my case, our real estate web site, is through social media. It’s one of the few ways you can reach a public without actually spending any money. You do have to spend time though. By becoming a part of social media, you’re beginning to build your own community. This community follows you and hopefully likes what you have to say, and participates in the community where they can. Think facebook for example and how many people are interacting and participating on each other’s walls all the time.   


The other big social media site that has everyone a-twitter is of course, Twitter. (Oh, such a comedian! I don’t know how I do it.) Twitter has gone from strength to strength and realistically when I first looked at it, I thought well, if the PM tweets, who am I not to? And if you use Twitter to connect to your blog or website, you are going to drive even more traffic to the places you want people to end up.


So, notes on tweeting. Try not to retweet too much, and make your account clear when it comes to your topics. You want people who are genuinely interested in your content to follow you – they’re more likely to end up being of value. I want people following Century 21 tweets to care about what I’m tweeting.

Another important thing to remember though, is that social media was established for fun. Communications, yes, and that’s why it’s great to link to your blog, but essentially it’s about communicating in a fun way. So with my fun content and my fun way of communicating it, I must be some kind of social media guru!   

2 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 02/10/2009 at 12:09 PM | Categories: